It's time to dress up again. That was the message Michael Van Der Ham wanted to get across. How else to explain the parade of sexy, slinky little cocktail numbers that strutted out, Veronica Lake curls bouncing, at his latest show for Autumn/Winter 2012. It was tantamount to a revolution for Van Der Ham, hitherto a purveyor of polite, patchwork dresses with a touch of the blue-stocking to them. For winter, those stockings are fishnet. If she's wearing them at all.
Occasionally Van Der Ham's shapes have played second-fiddle to his fabric experimentations but on this occasion it was a perfect marriage. The fabrics were still wildly varied - lurex-shot silk, organza, metallic lace cut-out and appliqued around the edge of fluttering handerchief-hem chiffon, and firm knitwear in boucles, some striped. Antique jacquards whirled onto the Louboutin shoes, too. But those textiles were an ingredient, rather than the main course. Van Der Ham's collaged dresses had a new sophistication because you really felt he considered the fact they were going to end up dressing a body as opposed to decorating a wall. Fabrics were puckered into the waist, draping subtly around the hips, delineating the breasts. Yes, the Michael Van Der Ham woman has breasts. Finally. And she's really not afraid to show them - he took more from that torpedo-bra Veronica Lake sweater-girl thing than the hair, evidently. There was also a wonderful believability to these clothes, something that so often eludes designers focussing solely on evening attire (something of a trend for what seems like a terribly elegant and formal Autumn/Winter season).
Unpicking the what, when and why behind a frock is a fashion journalist's raison d'être. But sometimes a collection sits together so perfectly, synthesising each and every one of its elements, that it's nice to simply take it in as is. Michael Van Der Ham was a feast for the eyes. Simple as that.